For those of you who have — or lust after (e.g., like Sean, see TM 1/29/07) — a Gerstner tool chest, you might be interested in the Gerstner PORTA-DRAWER™. It’s a flip-up handle that installs in the bottom drawer of most current and older-model Gerstner chests, and it turns the drawer into a portable tray for carrying your tools or other items.
The install-it-yourself accessory (which comes with mounting screws, a drilling template, and full instructions) stores permanently inside the drawer when in its down position, and then can hinge up to become a handle, making the drawer a tool tray. When it’s in the up position, small slots in the side brackets help to center the handle and keep the drawer level. And it’s only $29.95, which, considering the price of Gerstner chests, is a real bargain.
PORTA-DRAWER™ [Manufacturer’s Site]
Before the days of the slick Snap-On or behemoth Waterloo Industry tool chests, machinists stored their tools in wooden machinist chests. Gerstner’s been making ’em since 1906, and they remain the standard against which wooden machinist chests are measured.
In 1910 Gerstner designed the #41, a typical chest, to hold precision instruments for machinists. You can cover the #41’s seven lined drawers with a front lid, and you can lock the whole thing up — including the lined top tray — just like a contemporary machinist chest. Gerstner makes the chests with tongue and groove wood panels in your choice of golden oak, maple, cherry, or walnut. You can further customize the chest with hardware finishes and black or green felt. It also features a mirror mounted to the lid, one feature you don’t see too often in contemporary chests.
In today’s world the wooden chest has become more of a showpiece than an everyday necessity, and the prices reflect that — the #41 has a street price of $710 to $740 depending on what finish you decide on. Gerstner produces a “Gerstner International” line for those who want an economical option — the overseas manufacturers who make the International line hold themselves to less-strict standards. Either Gerstner USA or Gerstner International chests could become prize pieces to enjoy for a long time.
My grandfather bought a Gerstner tool chest to hold his archery arrow-making supplies over 50 years ago. It now resides at my lucky-ass uncle’s house, and while it’s a bit dusty, the last time I saw the old chest it looked exactly the same — except for an awesome patina that the wood had taken on from years of finger oil.
These chests are all made with solid kiln-dried red oak drawers and feature felt liners, carefully fitted drawers and panels, tongue and groove joinery, hand rubbed lacquer finish, steel reinforced corner protectors, locking pins and latches, and a lockable front panel. But what makes ’em really cool is that you’ll for sure end up passing them on to future generations.
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